The U.S. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other cattle producers and meat companies have sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture over country-of-origin labelling rules. Many consumers and groups such as Los Angeles-based Made in the USA Foundation favour the new rules but producers enjoy the benefits of mixing imported beef with domestic.
McClatchy reports a Canadian angle to the story in Cattle producers want to get rid of new meat labels, July 22, 2013
“The new labeling rules also could ignite a trade war with Canada, which is threatening to retaliate. Last month, the Canadian government called the new rules a “protectionist policy” that discriminated against foreign competition. Ottawa said it might respond by imposing tariffs on a long list of products, including pork, fruits and vegetables, pasta, chocolate, cheese, office furniture and many more.”
It seems the Canadian government is willing to take a strong stand on behalf of multinational agribusiness. Trouble is, Ottawa intends consumers in this country to be the cannon fodder in any trade war.
I sense a touch of irony in Canada’s response. The Chair of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s Foreign Trade Committee is Albertan Dave Solverson. The CCA is lobbying “to ensure favourable access to international markets” and they don’t want Americans informed by country-of-origin labelling. Yet, Mr. Solverson and his daughter Joanne were featured last year in advertising material that proclaimed McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada used only beef produced in this country. Solverson had been recruited for the campaign by Cargill, a giant that Forbes rates the largest private company in America. Cargill Canada is the exclusive beef supplier to McDonald’s Canadian restaurants.